Medial collateral ligament injuries were popular injuries suffered in the last few days in sports. The two MCL injuries I’m going to highlight on are of Alabama defensive back Laurence “Hootie” Jones and Los Angeles Clipper forward Blake Griffin. Both injuries were direct to the knee injuries, but happened in two different fashions.
Let’s recall the MCL or the medial collateral ligament (tibial collateral ligament), provides medial stability of the knee. It’s there to provide resistance to valgus force on the knee.
MCL injuries are usually categorized by grade I, II, and III.
Grade I: The MCL has not been torn, confirmed by MRI, but has been stretched.
Grade II: The MCL has been partially torn.
Grade III: The MCL has completely torn.
Grade I – II injuries generally are 1-4 weeks depending on pain levels and what activities they can tolerate. This is where some young athletes wear knee sleeves if they choose too. But general course of action is improving pain-free range of motion and slowly integrating them back into sport.
Grade III injuries range between 6-8 weeks on the short end or 8-12 weeks on the longer end of rehabilitation and recovery. With grade III injuries, you want to make sure that there is no further damage to the medial meniscus, ACL, or PCL.
Hootie Jones, Alabama Crimson Tide, Defensive Back
Hooties Jones suffered a partially torn MCL. I couldn’t find any sort of pictures or video of the injury, but since I was watching the game as fan, he was taking on the fullback before the the fullback went to block him on a running play and just happen to stick his helmet right into his left knee. It’s likely he will miss the remainder of the season, which includes the Bowl Game.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, Power Forward
Blake Griffin suffered what appears to be a Grade III MCL Sprain. Austin Rivers landed on his knee causing a valgus stress onto his left knee. The video shows both him and Austin Rivers going for a loose ball. Unfortunately it has been announced he will be out at least 2 months.
What Can I do?
For starters the MCL has a good blood supply. Which means that nutrients can and will be cycled through that part of the knee to help with recovery. With moving through a pain-free range of motion, soft tissue work, and gentle exercise rehabilitation we can help promote that recovery process. Both of the athletes will get 24/7 treatment with the institutions. But with that said, I can help with getting range of motion in the knee and with the soft tissue treatment around the knee. Not only is it important to work the MCL, LCL, and patellar tendon but also to work the quadriceps, adductors, and hamstrings to help with recovery.
The rehabilitation exercises for MCL sprains will focus around building stability in the knee. To make sure there hasn’t been any valgus competencies formed. From weight bearing to loaded squats to single leg exercises, the goal is get them out of pain and then back to practice to eventually be cleared to play.
It is a little bit more straightforward when the athlete does not require surgery. But for athletes that suffer a completely torn MCL, treatment on my end cannot begin until they’re out of the brace and beginning to work on range of motion of the knee. And of course there will be a restrictions until there is clearance from the MD and PT they’re working with. But treatment will still be centered around improving range of motion, decreasing pain and swelling around the knee. And then as they progress and can weight bear and walk without assistance we then can continue strengthening exercises back into general physical preparation before entering sports specific training to get them back into sport.